Cele: Back? I was never gone

2013-09-15 15:17

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Johannesburg - Bheki Cele, the former national police commissioner, has returned from the political wilderness and emerged as a key player in the ANC’s election campaign ahead of the 2014 poll.

Cele, who was fired by President Jacob Zuma after being censured by a commission of inquiry into the police’s Pretoria lease fiasco, last week had the party faithful eating out of his hand at an ANC Youth League 69th anniversary lecture in Durban.

The appearance by Cele, who was elected to the ruling party’s national executive committee (NEC) in Mangaung in December despite his fallout with the party’s Number One, is the first of many in his province for the election campaign.

The office of ANC ­KwaZulu-Natal secretary Sihle Zikhalala, which drives the provincial campaign, will use Cele for electioneering work across the province between now and May.

Although Cele’s NEC deployment is to the ANC’s troubled Mpumalanga province, the former KwaZulu-Natal transport and public safety MEC and eThekwini region chairperson is happy to be spending more time on the campaign trail on home turf.

In an exclusive interview at Umhlanga’s plush Beverly Hills Hotel, an upbeat Cele said he had “never been gone”.

“I don’t think I was ever gone. There have been other political activities, but less profile, so they haven’t been recognised.

“I was elected to the NEC in Mangaung. People remembered me.

“I’m deployed in Mpumalanga as an NEC deployee. I sit on the international relations committee and the education and health committee, and I have just been put on the national elections team. I have been active, but not with highly visible activities.”

Cele’s arrival at the hotel did not go unnoticed. Deebo Mzobe, the chairperson of Zuma’s Masibambisane community development initiative, and Muvhango boss Duma ka Ndlovu were both quick to come and say “Hi” as the country’s former top cop made his way to his seat.

Cele said he had been invited to address Tuesday’s event by the league’s leadership, who had discussed his appearance with the provincial leadership.

“The office of the secretary is putting me in more and more activities going towards elections,’’ he said.

Cele, who is a member of the Ward 74 branch at Lamontville, is also active in the branch at Ward 35 in Umhlanga, where he lives.\

All hands on deck

“With the elections it’s all hands on deck. I will undertake any task given to me by the ANC.”

Cele said while he had taken legal action over his dismissal, he was challenging the “crazy’’ decisions by Judge Jake Moloi, who chaired the inquiry, as opposed to challenging Zuma.

“I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt, but pain does not equal hate,” he said.

“Sometimes things are not all rosy in the ANC. Sometimes decisions go against you.”

Cele said he missed the top-cop job “big time”, but was open to whatever job the ANC asked him to do after the 2014 elections.

His removal as national commissioner does not preclude him from holding public office again and a vigorous campaign – and his strong ANC position – could see him deployed back to government.

“Sometimes the ANC asks one to leave one’s comfort zone. I had a very comfortable job as MEC, but took on the very tough but very doable job of SAPS commissioner.”

Read more on:    anc  |  bheki cele  |  durban  |  politics

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